Shared Prophets

Jonas a.k.a. Jonah

Shared ProphetsJonas, in the Bible, in chronological order, is the sixteenth Prophet (500 B.C.) He is the only one of the twelve minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible mentioned the Koran.

In Islam's core religious text, which the believers consider a more historically accurate record than the Bible, both the Old and New Testament, Jonas appears to be a contemporary of Noah. Could Allah have combined two maritime stories? An explanation is forthcoming.

The story of Jonas, in the Koran, is a story of someone who has missed the boat, the boat in Fakhry's translation being the Ark. In Allah’s retelling of the story of Jonas and the Whale, the Ark cannot accommodate all the people who want to join Noah on his voyage and lots are cast. It’s not Jonas’ lucky day.

But not to worry, Allah will provide him with an alternative mode of transportation to save him from drowning, and send him out into the world as another of His Messengers.

In the Bible, Jonas is on a ship which is in danger of sinking in a storm and the sailors cast lots to see who is to blame.

Jonah: 1:7 “Come on!” the sailors said to each other. “Let’s cast lots. Then we’ll know who is to blame for this trouble we’re in.” So they cast lots, and the lot singled out Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us who is to blame for this trouble we’re in. What is your business and where are you from? What is your country and what people are you from?”

In the Koran, lots are cast to see who will be allowed on the Ark.

37:139 And Jonas was one of the Messengers.

37:140 When he fled towards the laden Ark.

37:141 He cast lots, but was one of the losers.

In the Bible, the sailors throw Jonah overboard.

Jonah 1:14 So they called out to the Lord: “Please, Yahweh, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood! For You, Yahweh, have done just as You pleased.” 15 Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.

In the Koran, Jonas appears to be still on land when the whale swallows him whole; unless, of course, he was already on board whatever ship it was when they cast lots and, like the Bible says, was thrown over the side.

37:142 Then the whale swallowed him, and he was to blame.

37:143 Had he not been one of those who glorified [Allah];

37:144 He would have stayed in its belly until the Day they will be resuscitated.

37:145 Then We cast him out in the wilderness while he was sick.

37:146 And made to grow over him a gourd tree.

37:147 And We sent him forth to a hundred thousand or more.

37:148 They believed, and so We accorded them enjoyment for a while.

If Jonas actually survived the holy deluge courtesy of a whale provided by Allah and emerged from the mammal after the water had receded, at about the same time the Ark landed, the only people he could have ministered to were those who made the journey in Noah's boat.

Even if he had spent a whale's lifetime (50 to 100 years depending on the specie) in the belly of the beast there would still have been less than a thousand people on earth when he was spewed out, not more than "a hundred thousand or more". This may explain why in some mainstream translations, the boat on which Noah could not get passage is not referred to as the Ark.

37:140 ... when he fled like a runaway slave onto a laden ship.

Muhammad Assad

37:140 When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden,

Yusuf Ali

Allah will interrupt His Messenger’s delivery of this variation of the story of Jonas, (He does this all the time) and tell him to ask his Meccan audience a question which has little or nothing to do with Jonas, and which will lead to the familiar wide-ranging indignant outburst.

37:149 Ask them: “Are the daughters your Lord’s, and theirs the sons?

37:150 “Or have We created the angels as females, while they were witnesses?”

37:151 It is out of their perversion that they will say:

37:152 “Allah has begotten”, but they are liars.

37:153 Has He preferred daughters over sons?

37:154 What is the matter with you; how do you judge?

37:155 Do you not remember?

37:156 Or do you have manifest authority?

37:157 Produce your Book, if you are truthful.

Jonas, A Two Verse Version

21:87 And Dhun-Nun (another name for Jonah, the Arabic equivalent is Yunus), when he went out enraged, and he thought that We will have no power over him. So he called out in the darkness: “The is no god but You; glory be to You; I have certainly been one of the wrongdoers.”

21:88 So, We answered him and delivered him from distress; and thus We deliver the believers.

Allah Does Not Compel People to Believe Except When He Does

Jonah in revelation 10:98 is assumed to be Jonas.

10:96 Surely, those against whom the Word of your Lord will be fulfilled are not going to believe;

10:97 Even if every sign comes to them, till they see the very painful punishment.

10:98 How is it, then, that no town believed so that its belief would profit it, except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in the present life and allowed them to enjoy life for a while.

10:99 Had your Lord willed, everybody on earth would have believed. Will you then compel people to become believers?

10:100 It is not given to any soul to believe, except by Allah’s Leave. And He lays the scourge on those who do not understand.